Intel: Why Congress has five different bills banning F-35s for Turkey

al-monitor A Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft is seen at the ILA Air Show in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018.  Photo by REUTERS/Axel Schmidt.
Bryant Harris

Bryant Harris

@brykharris_ALM

Topics covered

us senate, house of representatives, donald trump, defense, recep tayyip erdogan, s-400, f-35

Jun 27, 2019

The Senate passed an annual defense authorization bill 86-8 today that includes a provision banning the transfer of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey if Ankara accepts Russia’s S-400 missile defense system. This is the fifth piece of major legislation that seeks to bar Turkey from receiving the aircraft despite Ankara’s participation in the F-35 co-production program. 

Why it matters: The fact that a similar iteration of the F-35 ban exists in several major legislative packages indicates the growing bipartisan concern over the threat that the S-400 radar system could give Russia sensitive information on the F-35 aircraft and other US military hardware. The F-35 bans are currently in two House spending bills, both the House and Senate defense authorization bills and stand-alone legislation that pushes back against Ankara’s drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean.

So what do all these provisions actually do?

 

 

Defense Department spending bill

Cuts off funding to transfer F-35s to Turkey without exception

Status: Passed House 226-203, awaiting Senate action

 

State Department spending bill

Cuts off funding to transfer F-35s to Turkey unless Secretary of State Mike Pompeo certifies that Ankara will not accept Russia’s S-400 missile system

Status: Passed House 226-203, awaiting Senate action

 

Senate defense authorization bill

Cuts off funding to transfer F-35s and F-35 technical capability to Turkey unless the secretary of defense and secretary of state jointly certify that Ankara will not accept Russia’s S-400 missile system

Status: Passed Senate 86-8, awaiting House action

 

Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act

Cuts off funding to transfer F-35s and F-35 technical capability to Turkey unless the president certifies that Ankara will not accept Russia’s S-400 missile system

Status: Passed Foreign Relations Committee by voice vote, awaiting Senate floor vote and House action

 

House defense authorization bill

Cuts off funding to transfer F-35s and F-35 technical capability to Turkey unless the secretary of defense and secretary of state jointly certify that Ankara will not accept or has gotten rid of Russia’s S-400 missile system

Status: Passed Armed Services Committee 33-24, awaiting House floor vote and Senate action

What’s next? Despite the myriad legislation on Capitol Hill backing up the Donald Trump administration’s repeated threats to halt the F-35 delivery to Turkey should the S-400 sale proceed, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is holding his ground. He has repeatedly insisted that Turkey will receive the S-400s next month. Should the sale proceed, the Trump administration would be required to sanction Turkey under a 2017 sanctions law barring significant transactions with Russia’s defense sector. 

Know More: Pentagon Correspondent Jack Detsch has the low-down on Turkish Ambassador Serdar Kilic’s last-ditch effort to avoid the US sanctions that the S-400 sale would trigger. Also, be sure to read Congressional Correspondent Bryant Harris to learn how Congress is also taking aim at Turkey for gas drilling off of Cyprus. Then check out Metin Gurcan’s in-depth look at how overlapping maritime claims threaten to militarize the eastern Mediterranean.

-Bryant Harris

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